Gorgonzola & Dried Fruit Pie aka your Holiday Raisin d’Etre

What first comes to mind when you think of a holiday pie? For most, perhaps pumpkin, pecan or even all-American apple pie, but probably not a Gorgonzola & Dried Fruit Pie. However, once you spread a bit of this appetizer pie on a slice of pear, apple or savory wafer, you’ll never think of anything else!  Gorgonzola and Dried Fruit Pie

This deceptively easy, 4-ingredient appetizer will be the center of attention at any party, whether you’re hosting or need to take something along. As far as edible things go, it’ will become your “raisin” d’etre (haha, get the dried fruit pun?) Read on to get the recipe! Continue reading

Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso

When it comes to appetizers, are you looking for a starting player for your football parties and other fall-season entertaining? It’s the winning call to move my Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso to the top of any line up. This creative hamburger-inspired dip is insanely flavorful, fun to serve, and quite likely to cause a celebration dance in the chip-and-dip zone.  Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso

Oh, and did I mention that in the scheme of indulgent, creamy, cheesy dips, this queso is not the diet disaster that you might assume it to be? I’ve lightened it by using lower-fat milk and cheeses along with lean ground beef! Read on to get all the deets and this winning recipe. Continue reading

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – Good Game Day Grub!

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”

But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland?  I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips.  That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire Roasted Tomate Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.

I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which.  Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!

litehouse-blue-cheese-queso-snack-tray-beer-day

While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods.  Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)

Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.

If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.

Healthy Snack Stadium - TheFitFork.com

[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]

What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk (without boiling), stirring occasionally.
  2. At the same time, heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour to melted butter and whisk continuously, cooking until it is bubbling and has turned lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stream in heated milk, whisking continuously, and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add cheeses and whisk well until melted smooth and incorporated. Add Italian Herb Blend, dried red pepper flakes, green onions and drained tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowl and garnish as desired.
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Low-Carb, Bunless Sandwich Salute for July 4th

Looking to keep it light and low-carb this summer? I have four fun “sandwich” ideas that offer a real blast of flavor without any bread or buns that will be a hit at your backyard 4th of July celebration, family picnic in the park or anywhere else you plan to do some outdoor entertaining.

First up is my Watermelon Grilled Chicken Capr-easy Sammie. I’m never run out of ways to eat watermelon (you know how I love #LivingOnTheWedge).

Chicken Watermelon Capr-easy Sandwhich -- A fun, low-carb bunless sammie!

Simply take a juicy, grilled chicken breast, two strips of thick cooked bacon, and a slice of mozzarella or provolone and slide between two ½” planks of watermelon cut right from the sweetest, ripest “heart” of the melon. Top with basil and drizzle with some balsamic syrup if so desired!

Chicken, Bacon and Watermelon Sandwich with Sargento Provolone

I’ve been using Sargento® Ultra Thin® Cheese Slices this summer (the company was kind enough to send me product to try and review). Verdict – I love these paper thin slices of natural cheese that deliver 100% of the flavor I want for only 45 calories per slice (that means I can have a couple slices)! I also like how they are thin enough to roll up, fold up or “ruffle” like I did for a garnish on my sammie!

Do you have a favorite way to eat a sandwich without bread? Cheese or no cheese and why? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

Chicken Lentil and Veggie Collard Green Wraps with Sriracha RanchNext up, a Chicken, Lentil and Veggie “Green” Wrap —> Click Here

Asparagus and Feta Egg Scramble – Breakfast in 10 minutes

Are you scrambling to get out the door on time when the sun rises and skipping (or stumbling) right past breakfast? Missing your morning meal is a mistake for sure – I always end up getting “hangry” mid-morning and end up molesting the vending machine. That’s why I like to plan ahead just a bit to have ingredients on hand to make a quick fix like the Asparagus Egg Scramble with Feta Cheese  I’m sharing today or to prep a make-ahead meal  such as my Barn Raiser Beef & Egg Casserole (freezable in individual portions).

sparagus and Feta Egg Scramble is a simple, protein-rich breakfast solution that comes together in 10 minutes.

So, if you’ve got 10 minutes in the morning, you have a whole 600 seconds to get cracking on this Asparagus Egg Scramble with Feta Cheese. If you prep veggies the night before, you might be able to get it done more quickly!  This easy egg recipe also makes a lightning-speed dinner solution on those nights when orchestrating a complicated meal is absolutely, positively out of the question.

This is how to get the speed you need -asparagus, spinach and tomatoes sautés together on the stove top while eggs are scrambled on a nearby burner. When the two skillets are just seconds from being done, just slide out the contents from one into the next and stir!

Asparagus Egg Scramble with Litehouse Foods Feta Seasons

I’ve give this breakfast dish some salty, tangy zip thanks to the distinctive flavor of feta cheese – love using the new Simply Artisan Reserve Feta Cheese Crumbles, the container sprinkles these tiny cheese pieces just like a grated Parm. It’s genius!  Look for it, along with Bue Cheese Seaons in the specialty cheese section of your local grocery store.

I’ll be sharing this recipe on the Expo Floor Sunday morning, Jun 5th,  at the International Deli-Dairy-Bakery Food Show in Houston, Texas. Swing on by, if you’re attending!

Asparagus & Feta Egg Sandwich

Meanwhile, make an easy feat of feasting with the Asparagus Egg Scramble with Feta Cheese recipe! Serve straight from the skillet or spoon atop toasted whole grain toast – I’ve even bookended between bread to eat sandwich-style when rushing out the door. Enjoy!

What is your biggest hurdle getting out the door in the morning? Eggs, how do you take them? Are you running or competing in anything this weekend? Please share in the comments — XOXO, Jennifer

Asparagus & Feta Egg Scramble
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
8 mintues
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
8 mintues
Asparagus & Feta Egg Scramble
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
8 mintues
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
8 mintues
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Spray 12” skillet with cooking spray and bring to medium-low heat. When hot, add eggs and stir fairly vigorously using spatula, for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. In another 12” skillet, add olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add asparagus and carrots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Next add spinach, tomatoes and garlic, stirring frequently and continuing to sauté for about 3 additional minutes or until spinach is wilting.
  4. Keep eggs on medium-heat and add sautéed vegetable mixture, stirring to incorporate.
  5. Remove from heat and sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
  6. Season additionally with salt and pepper, if needed.
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Willpower Rest Day – Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac

Bacon & Blue Cheese MacI try to eat green and eat clean, but sometimes I need to give it a rest! And, now I have the science to prove that it’s okay to indulge in my Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac recipe every once in a while. A recent study says that our willpower is like a muscle, after use it becomes fatigued and is no longer able to perform at peak levels. After a lot of use, your needs to take a break, just like you need to recover after a hard run or workout!  The scientists studying decision making called it “self-regulation failure,” and people in the food and fitness world call it a “cheat day” when these decisions come to food – I don’t like those terms and am rebranding the idea a Willpower Rest Day!

 sauce for blue cheese mac

This pot of cheesy goodness is about to be poured onto noodles.

I first developed this rich and creamy recipe for macaroni and cheese for Litehouse Foods using blue cheese crumbles from their Simply Artisan Reserve line of cheese. It’s become famous with friends, family and readers of the Living Litehouse Blog. And, also beloved by the thousands of people who have sampled it at Fresh Summit in Atlanta and recently the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. I’m not trying to brag (oh, who am I kidding?!), but I’m heard exclamations like, “OMG, this is the BEST macaroni and cheese I’ve EVER eaten.”

BAco

Smoky, salty bacon complement bold blue cheese – there is a lot of umami action going on with this fancy mac and cheese. However, the flavors aren’t so over the top that the kids will be freaked out. However, maybe you WANT to keep them out of it (more for you) so just double up on the blue cheese! Have I convinced you to give your willpower a rest day and make up a batch of this delicious baked macaroni and cheese recipe?  This baked pasta recipe can even be made ahead and then popped into the oven an hour before serving.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac

 

Also, check out these macaroni and cheese making tips from from Cooking Light — everything you need to know to satisfy your mac madness!

What is your favorite comfort food? Do you rest your willpower every now and then? Fan of blue cheese? Please share in the comments below, XOXO — Jennifer 

Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac
Willp
Print Recipe
Treat yourself to this rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese made with blue cheese and bacon -- delicious as a side dish to steak, a casserole for your pot luck or just straight out of the dish.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac
Willp
Print Recipe
Treat yourself to this rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese made with blue cheese and bacon -- delicious as a side dish to steak, a casserole for your pot luck or just straight out of the dish.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Bring water to a boil and prepare pasta according to directions, but shaving 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time to keep al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When butter begins to sizzle, quickly add flour and whisk constantly until roux is golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in milk and whisk constantly, stirring until the mixture slightly thickens.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add in white cheddar and blue cheese a couple handfuls at a time until cheese melts and sauce is thickened.
  6. Stir in Blue Cheese Dressing. Stir in Instantly Fresh chives and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add cooked pasta to baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over top, tossing to coat all the noodles.
  8. Cover top in panko bread crumb mixture.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden and crunchy and sauce is bubbling. Top with crumbled bacon
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Olive You! Easy Holiday Recipes and Entertaining Inspiration

As the holidays approach, I think fondly of all those who are near and dear – and also my loved ones further away. And, of course, the readers of my blog and friends and supporters on social media are on my mind and heart, what would I do without you all! I just want to let you know that it would be the total PITS without you . . .  OLIVE YOU! Because OLIVE YOU so much (bear with the puns please), I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to use olives in holiday recipes.

Olive You

First, it’s cocktail hour. Might I suggest skewering up a salty olive to complement a sweet drink – you’d be surprised at how well the combination goes. Because I fall on my face easily enough sober, I typically limit myself to ½ a drink. With just one “mini” drink, I can still wake up refreshed for the fiercest workouts and morning to-do lists, but can still enjoy a little taste of fa-la-la libations.

Cranberry Martini with Mezzetta Olive

Here, I’ve added a Mezzetta Olive to a Mini Cranberry Martini – it’s a tablespoon each of vodka and cranberry juice along with a splash of lime juice – and cranberries for garnish.

Mezzetta Olives for a Cheese Board

Holiday Olive TrayNo cocktail party would be complete without an olive tray and cheese board filled with delicious noshes –  olives, aged cheeses, seasonal fruit, artisan crackers and an array of almonds. It’s simple yet sophisticated as a focal “snack” for your festivities and also makes a lovely prelude to any holiday meal and creates an abundance of Mezzetta Memories.

 

Pasta with Blue Cheese OlivesSpeaking of holiday meals, think of all those busy-night dinners leading up to and after the BIG DAY where a huge roast or bird isn’t on the menu – yet you have a house full of folks who have worked up quite the appetite shopping, wrapping, visiting, caroling, baking or being on hall-decking detail. My recipe for Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives is the easiest, most amazing holiday meal that comes together practically in the wink of an eye – or as long as it takes to cook pasta al dente. If you’re making it after Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or whatever your holiday celebration may be, feel free to toss in any leftover main course protein such as beef tenderloin, pork roast or turkey breast!

Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives Recipe

  • 8 ounces uncoooked whole grain pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Mezzetta Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives, halved crosswise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 12 ounces pre-cooked protein leftovers, like chicken, turkey, roast beef
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat up olive oil in large skillet and saute garlic and red pepper flakes for approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add olives and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes until warmed.
  4. Toss with noodles optional protein leftovers (warmed) and a little extra olive oil, if needed. Season with salt to taste. Stir in blue cheese while still warm.
  5. Serves 4.

 

 

 

Pasta with Mezetta Blue Cheese OlivesBeing able to make a speedy yet special recipe like Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives which uses extraordinary ingredients I wouldn’t necessarily use every day (including gourmet olives, bold blue cheese and sun-dried tomatoes) frees up my time to make more meaningful Christmas memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. Plus, I appreciate the fact that Mezzetta, a fourth generation family-owned company, also values holiday tradition, family and providing the highest quality olives available from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece. I like to keep quite a few varieties of Mezzetta olives stocked in my pantry for impromptu salads, pizzas, pastas, snacks and more — inspiration is just a twist away!

Mezzetta MemoriesPlease visit Mezzetta to find daily inspiration and enter the Holiday Memories Sweepstakes for a chance to win the holiday memories sharing pack. One winner will receive an Instant Print Digital Camera plus an Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket and ten others will receive the Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket – I have one, it’s fabulous! Expires Dec. 31, 2015 – enter here.

What are your favorite holiday memories that involve gathering friends and family around good food? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Healthier Comfort! {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole Recipe

When you hear the words “melted cheese,” what comes to mind? I think of all kinds of comfort foods like homey mac & cheese, ginormous slices of mozzarella blanketed pizza blanketed, and hot Tex Mex queso and a basket of chips. However, all this ooey, gooey goodness comes with high-fat, high calorie consequences if I’m not careful. But, there are a few tweaks and tricks that will allow you to enjoy cheese in recipes while keeping you light on your feet (and hands)!

yoga handstand pose jennifer fisher

My cheese tips & tricks will keep you light on your feed (and hands)!

First of all, portion control. Just because you CAN eat a whole batch of cheese sticks, doesn’t mean you should. Second, moderation in the use of cheese as an ingredient – if a recipe calls for 1 cup, cut back and see if a little less will still yield the same effect. If you don’t want to sacrifice the “creaminess,” often you can also substitute a little Greek yogurt or a roux made with low fat milk as in my {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole recipe below. Another way to keep cheese the star of the dish without globbing it on is to use a high quality cheese. Fresh cheese and artisan cheese taste so much better than the dried out, shredded stuff hanging in the bags at the supermarket – the taste is more pronounced and therefore you can use less!

aged cheddar cheese thefitfork

Recently, I took advantage of this last healthy cheese tip, by making a comforting casserole with a ton of healthy swaps.   First off, I used one of my favorite cheeses – Kerrygold Aged Cheddar – as the topping on my {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole. Kerrygold Aged Cheddar is a cheese made from the milk of grass-fed cows and then aged for taste for one year – it’s described as “rich and full-bodied with a smooth finish” and I agree (nom,nom).  By using aged cheddar as the bold accent on top of the recipe, I was able to cut significantly on the cheese used within the interior of the casserole – in fact, only two ounces were stirred into the easy roux that had been kept light with low-fat milk and just a skosh of canola oil (no butter)! Also, instead of traditional rice or noodles, I used quinoa in this healthy casserole recipe for added protein – although it has no meat, it could make a hearty side dish as part of a Meatless Monday dinner.  Oh, and it has cauliflower – it just seems to turn to creamy, dreamy butter in this dish!

cheesy quinoa bake

{Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole Recipe

  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 1 12-oz bag microwave-in-bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups chopped sweet yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic from jar
  • ½ cup 1% milk
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  1.  Heat medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ teaspoons oil and coat pan. Add quinoa and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly toasted; stir frequently.
  2. Add 1 ¼ cups water and bring to a bowl. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  4. In large skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan and sauté onions for 3 to 4 minutes until softened and turning golden. Stir in garlic during last 1 minute of cooking.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together milk and flour; stir chicken broth, salt and pepper into this mixture.
  6. Add milk-broth mixture to skillet and bring to a boil; stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  7. Remove skillet from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese until melted.
  8. Microwave cauliflower according to package directions. Carefully remove from bag and very coarsely chop.
  9. Stir in quinoa and cauliflower into Parmesan mixture.
  10. Place in 1 ½ to 2 quart baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Or, you can do in individual ramekins as pictured below.Top with grated cheese.
  11. Bake at 400 F degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese bubbling and lightly browned on top.
  12. Serves 6 – 8.

cauliflower quinoa ramekins

Cooking Light Best Cheese RecipesOkay, so I won’t lie. I was inspired to make this cheesy, delicious dish after getting my October issue of Cooking Light magazine. Hello, the headline is “Our Best Cheese Dishes” and it included a kid-friendly, make-ahead recipe for a Broccoli Quinoa Casserole with Chicken — of course, I HAD to tweak it and make it my own. Check out some of the other healthier cheese recipes from Cooking Light – you will be drooling!

 

What is your favorite type of cheese or recipe using cheese?

This post is sponsored by Cooking Light and KerryGold. I received free products / gifts in return for this post; however, all opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) are my own.